Paternal and Maternal Parenting and Outcomes in Sons and Daughters

Earlier in this chapter, differences in fathers and mothers' interactions with their sons and daughters were reviewed, and it was shown that researchers have found that fathers and mothers exert a strong influence on such outcomes as youths' gender-role ideology. This section builds on those findings by briefly reviewing other consequences of maternal and paternal behavior for children's development, including self-esteem, psychological adjustment, and cognitive and academic competence. For example, Rohner and Veneziano (2001) reported on the work of Barber and Thomas (1986) who found that the cluster of conditions predicting adolescent daughters' self-esteem was different from those that predicted sons' self-esteem. Sons' self-esteem was best predicted by fathers' sustained physical contact (e.g., picking up the boy for fun and safety) and by mothers' companionship (i.e., spending time with the boy, and sharing activities with him), whereas daughters' self-esteem was best predicted by fathers' physical affection and by mothers' praise, approval, encouragement, use of terms of endearment, and helping behaviors. Rohner and Veneziano (2001) also reported on Booth and Amato's (1994) longitudinal study, which found that marital quality influenced adult sons' and daughters' feelings of closeness with their fathers and mothers. Specifically, adult sons whose parents had a poor marital relationship felt somewhat less close to both parents than did sons whose parents had a good marital relationship. Daughters, on the other hand, felt much less close to their fathers but only slightly less close to their mothers when parents had poor marital relationships. Booth and Amato concluded that the father-daughter tie tends to be especially vulnerable in the context of serious marital problems between parents, whereas the mother-daughter tie tends to be especially resilient. Moreover, in a study of maternal and paternal warmth and control, Jones, Forehand, and Beach (2000) found that only maternal behavior (i.e., firm control) during adolescence was independently associated with secure adult romantic relationships in both male and female offspring. Although fathers' warmth and control by themselves did not predict secure adult romantic relationships, a combination of paternal firm control and maternal warmth did predict secure adult romantic relationships for both male and female offspring.

Additional evidence about the influence of paternal behavior on boys' and girls' development comes from the work of Radin. In the early 1970s, Radin and colleagues (Jordan, Radin, & Epstein, 1975) found that paternal nur-turance was positively related to the cognitive competence of European American middle-class preschool boys, but not girls. For example, in the first of two observational studies, Radin et al. investigated the influence of paternal nurturance (e.g., responsiveness) and restrictiveness (e.g., ordering without explanation) on boys' intellectual functioning. They found that paternal nurturance was positively related to boys' scores on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (SBIS) and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) (a test of verbal intelligence). On the other hand, paternal restrictiveness was negatively associated with boys' achievement on these same measures. However, after examining a subset of fathers and their daughters from that study, Radin found that high paternal involvement was positively related to girls' mental age as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (Radin, 1981b). Furthermore, she found a positive relationship between high levels of father involvement and daughters' scores on the Cognitive Home Environment Scale (CHES). The CHES measures fathers' long-term educational and career expectations for their children, and fathers' cognitive stimulation of their children's intellectual growth (Radin, 1981b).

In a subsequent study, Radin (1981a) investigated the relationship between paternal involvement and both girls' and boys' intellectual growth as measured by the CHES. She also investigated the relationship between scores on the PPVT and levels of fathers' involvement. Her study consisted of 59 intact middle-class, primarily European American, families living in the midwestern United States. Radin found that for the sample as a whole, paternal involvement was positively related to fathers' stimulation of youths' intellectual growth. Paternal involvement in childcare was also positively related to youths' verbal intelligence. As for consequences by gender, girls' verbal intelligence was positively related to paternal involvement. Moreover, paternal involvement in decision-making was positively related to fathers' stimulation of boys' intellectual growth and verbal intelligence. Thus the verbal intelligence of boys and girls was significantly affected by paternal involvement. However, these findings also indicated that fathers stimulated the intellectual growth of sons more so than daughters, suggesting that even highly involved fathers direct more attention to sons than to daughters.

Researchers have also found ethnic variations in gender-related outcomes of paternal behavior. For example, McAdoo's (1993) research of African American families suggests that middle-income African American fathers tend to demand immediate obedience, suppression of children's feelings, and constraint of children's assertive and independent behavior. However, Baumrind (1972, 1991) found African American fathers to exhibit a combination of firm control, warmth, and encouragement of autonomy in her observational study of African American and European American fathers' interactions with preschool children. African American and European American fathers exhibited similar expectations concerning the behaviors of sons, encouraging their independence, while African American fathers tended to discourage independence or individuality in daughters. Nevertheless, Baumrind found that these same African American daughters were actually independent and positively involved in social interactions at school. According to McAdoo, the authoritarian style of African American fathers may not contain the same degree of emotional coldness as that of European American fathers, such that authoritarian paternal control among African American children may be experienced somewhat differently than it is by European American children.

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